February 17, 2016
The scene at the bank on Falcarragh moments after Watters smashed into it.

The scene at the bank on Falcarragh moments after Watters smashed into it.

A man who crashed his car into the front of a bank causing more than €33,000 worth of damage before fleeing the scene has escaped a jail sentence.

Stephen Watters, 29, smashed into the front of the Bank of Ireland in Falcarragh on November 29th, 2014 at 5.20am after leaving some friends home.

Watters appeared at Falcarragh District Court today for sentence after completing a safe driving course.

Defence solicitor Patsy Gallagher told Judge Paul Kelly that the incident had not been “a ram raid situation” but that his client had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Mr Gallagher said his client head been leaving friends home when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the window of the bank after which he panicked and left the scene.

The judge remarked that perhaps Watters had been “trying to make a lodgement”.

Garda Inspector Denis Joyce said that only for the early hour, it was fortunate that no-one who might have been using the ATM was injured but the court heard that damage was caused to the building.

Watters also faced a separate charge of dangerous driving on August 24th 2014 at Meenderrygamph in Gweedore after crashed into a bridge writing off his vehicle and causing substantial damage to a bridge wall.

Judge Kelly remarked that Watters had carried out “an extraordinary sequence of driving that indicated his absolute lunacy behind the wheel”.

Unemployed plasterer Watters, of Shroughan,Falcarragh, appeared in court again yesterday (WED) for sentence by Judge Kelly.

However, Inspector Joyce said that he had a note that the Bank of Ireland had still not been compensated for the €33,000 amount of damage caused during the spectacular crash.

However solicitor Mr Gallagher maintained that it had been paid by Mr Watters’ mother’s insurance company as he had ben driving her car at the time.

Judge Kelly said the issue before the court was not an insurance issue but one of dangerous driving.

He remarked “Your client has a pretty grim record including two previous convictions for no insurance and one for dangerous driving.

“He must have been going at some speed to mount the pavement, go through a bench and crash into bank.”

He sentenced Watters to 120 hours community service for dangerous driving for the incident in which he crashed into the  bank on November 29th, 2014 in lieu of six months in prison.

He ordered him to do an additional 80 hours community service for another charge of dangerous driving, which he reduced to careless driving, on August 24th last, in lieu of 3 months in prison.